Tag Archives: sebastian maniscalco

THE IRISHMAN (2019) – My rating: 7/10

The Irishman is an epic crime film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese. It is written by Steven Zaillian and based on the 2004 nonfiction book, I Heard You Paint Houses, by Charles Brandt. The film follows Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who becomes a hitman. The film includes Frank’s involvement with mobster Russell Bufalino and his crime family, plus his time working for the powerful Teamster, Jimmy Hoffa.

From a nursing home while sitting in his wheelchair, Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), an elderly World War II veteran, recounts his time as a hitman for a crime syndicate; during the 1950s in Philadelphia, Frank worked as a delivery truck driver.  Seeing an opportunity to make extra money, he starts to sell some of the contents of his shipments to local gangster Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio (Bobby Cannavale). After his company accuses him of theft, union lawyer Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) gets him off after Sheeran refuses to name his customers to the judge. Bill introduces Frank to his cousin Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), who is head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family. Frank begins to do small jobs for Russell and members of the local South Philadelphia underworld, including “painting houses,” a euphemism for murder. Soon, Russell introduces Frank to Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who has financial ties with the Bufalino crime family and is struggling to deal with fellow rising Teamster Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano (Stephen Graham), as well as mounting pressure from the federal government. Hoffa becomes close with Frank and his family, especially his daughter Peggy (Anna Paquin), and Frank becomes Hoffa’s chief bodyguard, while on the road.

I’m not sure why The Irishman received so many Oscar nominations, I am sure of one thing, the movie was one of the longest movies I’ve seen in some time.  I felt the last half hour of the movie could have been eliminated.  It didn’t really contribute anything to the story.  While De Niro (who was snubbed by the Academy), Pesci and Pacino are truly among the very best actors in Hollywood, they came off as pretty advanced, age-wise,  for their familiar role of mob characters. In their defense, Scenes were filmed with a custom three-camera rig to help facilitate the extensive de-aging digital effects that made De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci appear younger. Having said that, The Irishman was well-acted, despite their ages and well told.  However, the film was too long and at times,  tad bit slow-paced.  I almost feel as though we’ve seen it all when it comes to the topic of the mafia. With a production budget of $159 million and a runtime of 209 minutes, it is among the most expensive and longest films of Scorsese’s career. The film received critical acclaim, with particular praise for Scorsese’s direction and the performances of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, The Irishman was nominated for five awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, while it earned 10 nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film. The Irishman is now streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!

[THE IRISHMAN is Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, twice for Best Supporting Actor, followed by BEST: Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Visual Effects, Adapted Screenplay, and Costume Design — TOTALLING 10 OSCAR NOMINATIONS]


GREEN BOOK (2018) – My rating: 8.7/10

Green Book is an American comedy-drama, based on a true story about a tour of the Deep South in the 1960s involving a classical/jazz pianist and a bouncer who served as a driver and bodyguard. Green Book is directed by Peter Farrelly, the screenplay was also written by Farrelly along with Brian Hayes Currie and Nick Vallelonga, which is based on interviews with the pianist, the bodyguard and letters written to the bodyguard’s wife. The film is named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, informally called the Green Book, a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travelers, written by Victor Hugo Green to help Blacks find safe havens, i.e., motels and restaurants, throughout the segregated South that would accept them. This is a worthwhile movie!

Green Book revolves around African-American classical and jazz pianist, Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), who served as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard.  In 1960, New York City, bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga is searching for new but temporary employment after the nightclub where he works has been closed for renovations. Eventually Tony gets an interview as a driver for someone called “Doc”. Their first encounter does not go well, as Tony’s flippant, uncultured behavior clashes with Doc’s sophisticated, reserved demeanor. The concert tour is for eight-weeks through the Deep South with plans to return home on Christmas Eve. Tony is hired after a second encounter and referrals from friends. A car along with a copy of the Green Book is given to Tony by Doc’s record studio.

They begin the tour in the Midwest before eventually heading further south. Tony and Doc clash over their differences, as Tony feels uncomfortable being asked to act properly, while Doc is disgusted by Tony’s habits. Regardless, Tony finds himself impressed with Doc’s talent on the piano, and increasingly disgusted by the discriminatory treatment Doc receives by the hosts when he is not on stage. After a bar incident leads to a group of white men threatening Doc’s life, Tony rescues him by threatening to pull a gun on them. He instructs Doc not to go out without him for the rest of the tour. Throughout the journey, Tony writes letters to his wife, Dolores Vallelonga (Linda Cardellini) and kids. Don coaches him to write more beautiful prose, which deeply moves Tony’s wife. Tony encourages Doc to get in touch with his own estranged brother, but Doc is hesitant; Doc says that he has become isolated by his professional life and achievements.

Green Book is a sensitive, touching story that is tactfully told.  I can’t say enough about how brilliant the acting is and how well the film was directed.  The 60’s was an extremely hard time for Blacks given their suppressed value and lack of respect offered by their white counterparts.  I was reminded of a taunted past and the elimination of many Blacks and Whites who fought the good fight.  This simple relationship between 2 men on opposite sides of the race divide, brought together by unprecedented circumstances  is truly a story EVERYONE should see.  I laughed, cried, stood up and clapped and sulked in my heart at every turn of this touching film.  There are many lessons to be learned from Green Book as the film tries to tell it all.  There are some incidents that will take you church and some that will take you to jail.  See Green Book by any means — it’s truly a winner in my book.  Check it out!

[Green Book is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing]